The arrival of summer and steady vaccination rates are offering Canadians hope that better days are around the corner. Yet alarming news at home and abroad remind us of the hard work left to do to build a just and equitable world.
WE MUST DO BETTER
Consider, earlier this month Canadians were once again forced to confront the horrors of residential schools when the remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered at a mass grave in one such school in Kamloops, and more recently 751 bodies were found in Saskatchewan, with more being discovered as we speak. In the South, the inequity of vaccine access is threatening to prolong the pandemic, most acutely in that part of the world.
What we do know, from Indigenous reconciliation in Canada to preventing the spread of viruses in Africa, is that change lies in truth, respect, partnership, and empowerment.
These are the values Crossroads International relies on in our own cooperation work overseas. In fact, it is central to our philosophy of global change. But how do we translate these concepts into a meaningful strategy and practical daily work?
I AM A CROSSROADER: CAPACITY BUILDING
In the second phase of our I Am A Crossroader campaign, we focus on capacity building. As you know, Crossroads has long collaborated with organizations already well-established in their communities and taken our lead from them on what the needs of local citizens are. To be a valuable partner and leverage specific, needed, or desired expertise from Canadian volunteers, we want to help strengthen the ability of organizations and individuals in Africa to achieve their own goals and secure their futures.
This can be done in all facets of our work, from sharing knowledge on strategies to reduce sexual violence and stigma to fostering women’s economic development to mobilizing political action for equality legislation. Rather than just delivering lessons, volunteers are helping write school manuals. Instead of just offering business advice, volunteers are supporting long-term market development plans. More than simply lending support on a specific issue campaign, volunteers are empowering women to be advocates for themselves and their communities.
As Crossroader Caroline Aubry remarked during her work in Togo on human rights, by training people who are reaching thousands of others in their communities, we can achieve change in a systemic way.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IS A TWO-WAY STREET
The train the trainers model is a proven one, but the difference here is training is not a one-way street. Crossroads’ Canadian volunteer trainers learn too, both for the benefit of enhancing program support and delivery in the host country, and in lessons that can be applied in their own work at home.
The struggle for equality, the necessity to end violence, the urgency to escape poverty – these can feel like overpowering challenges. They are not, however, insurmountable. It takes courage and vigilance, but the solutions are known. The model exists. We must work with partners to strengthen capacity on the ground and facilitate sustainable change.
At a moment of glimmering hope, this should serve as a reminder that even greater possibilities exist if we commit to doing the necessary work.